By IANS, [RxPG] The first case of bird flu has been reported in France with a duck found dead with the H5N1 virus infection in southeastern France, the French agriculture ministry announced.
The bird flu virus, which has killed more than 90 people in Asia and Turkey, was identified in laboratory tests carried out by the French Agency for Foods Safety (AFSSA), the ministry said in a press statement late Sturday.
The duck was one of several dead fowl found Monday in a swampy area in the department of Ain. A protective three-kilometre-zone was set up Friday around the site after preliminary tests had established a strong presumption of the presence of the H5N1 virus.
Another 15 birds, most of them wild swans, found dead in various regions of France were being examined to see if they too carried the H5N1 virus, French health authorities said.
French President Jacques Chirac, on an official visit in Thailand, said Saturday that the French people must remain "calm but take the situation seriously".
However, an official of the French Federation of Poultry Breeders, Christian Marinov, said Saturday, "We are on a war footing. We call on all breeders to be vigilant."
The presence of bird flu could have a devastating effect on the country's poultry industry, which is Europe's largest. Sales of poultry in France had already fallen by up to 20 per cent due to the fear of bird flu.
Indo-Asian News Service
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